In December 2021, Stuart Cook’s name was submitted by his friend and co-retired Fire Chief Jerry Sack for induction into the Navy's Fire and Emergency Services Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. The nomination for this prestigious award was accepted and on May 2 he received great news from his friend. “I am so excited to pass this on to you, both my personal and professional congratulations on your induction into the Navy Fire and Emergency Services Hall of Fame Class of 2021 as inductee #44,” Sack wrote.
Sack hired Cook as his Assistant Chief just as Miramar San Diego was moving to Fallon in 1997. Cook was assigned to the Consolidated Federal Fire Department at Miramar at the time. “I'd like you to be my First Assistant Chief to help me put this brand new Fire Department together.” Cook jumped at the offer.
Cook reminisced about his younger days with his dad. “My first real experience as a firefighter was one time when I was with my dad. I was about 10 years old at the time and was in the firehouse with him when a call came in for a fire that had started the night before, and they didn't quite put it out. So, they had to go back the next morning, and my dad put me in the truck, put a helmet and coat on me, and I went in and put the fire out with a booster hose. I was scared to death, and I wasn't too sure I wanted to be a fireman yet.”
Regional Fire Chiefs submit recommendations of induction into the F&ES Hall of Fame to the Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC), and the Hall of Fame Commission with those nominations generally coming from recommendations sent to the Regional Chiefs by prior inductees. The criterion for a nomination includes current and prior Navy F&ES assignments, service experience, professional accomplishments, distinguished service, education, training and certifications acquired, fire service awards and other recognition received.
According to the CNIC newsletter, “The Navy F&ES Awards Program was instituted in 1997 to recognize the most outstanding fire departments and personnel for achieving the highest degree of excellence.” This year the annual induction ceremony was held in the National Museum of the United States Navy, with the Hall of Fame building right next door.
Cook said, “For all the people in attendance that day, I looked around and only knew 3 people there, and I usually know a lot more than that.” In his thank-you speech, he said, “My dream of becoming a firefighter started when I was assigned to Naval Station Adak, Alaska as a military firefighter. I was sent to the 12th Naval District Structural Firefighting school in 1983, and never looked back.” There were a number of individuals that he's known throughout his career, and he took the time to thank each one. He also talked about the number of times he has run into those people and said, “With all the people I've known and that have come back into my life, I will tell all you Chiefs right now, don't ever burn a bridge because these people can come to help you later on in life - or not - and you will want them on your side.”
Sack certainly has high regard for Cook, writing in his nomination package, “I cannot list all of Chief Cook's Fire service accomplishments in a single one-page award package. Therefore, it is with my highest recommendation that I ask you to pass on my recognition and Hall of Fame Award Nomination Package with your approval.”
Many Navy F&ES service awards were given out at this annual ceremony in addition to the Hall of Fame awards, including Department of the Year, Firefighter of the Year, Fire Officer of the Year, Fire Instructor of the Year, Fire Chief of the Year, and Lifetime Achievement awards. Cook was one of three Navy F&ES Hall of Fame Class of 2021 inductees who received an official Hall of Fame helmet and a beautifully etched solid crystal award, both of which were incredibly weighty. He also received his official award letter, signed by Director of Navy Fire and Emergency Services Carl Glover, which arrived in a padded portfolio as a keepsake suitable for framing.
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